MORO – Forging ahead without injured all-state catcher Bradley Moe Sherman head coach Joe Justesen has had to move players around with hopes of finding the right fit for the stretch run.
Since Moe’s injury, the No. 7-ranked Huskies have won four of their last five games, including an 11-4 opening-round state playoff victory Wednesday in Moro against No. 10 Kennedy.
“It was tough to see Bradley go down. He is a heck of a catcher and leader for us,” said senior catcher Maverick Winslow. “You just have to come in ready to play and ready to adapt to the situation. I am just here focused and working hard. As a team, we pick each other up and make those sacrifices when someone is hurt or off their game. That’s what makes being a part of this so special because we are all here for a common goal.”
The Huskies (18-6 overall) had three offensive outbursts in the game, the first coming off the bat of Treve Martin, who slugged a three-run home run to right centerfield for a 3-1 lead.
Kennedy answered with two runs, one earned, in the top second to even things at 3-3, but then Sherman exploded for five runs on six hits in the third.
Martin doubled to lead off, then Kyle Fields and Trey Homer swelled the lead to 5-3 after consecutive RBI doubles.
Diego Valdez drove in Homer with a single, and with the bases loaded, Brett Troutman smashed a two-run single, making it 8-3.
Staked to that big lead, Troutman shrugged off early control issues and dominated Kennedy.
The junior right-hander gave up a solo home run to Brett Traeger, and also wiggled out of jams in the fifth and sixth, aided by diving defensive plays by Max Martin at shortstop.
Kennedy (18-7) posted 10 hits, four walks and had two batters hit by pitches and left 12 runners on base.
Troutman also struck out four batters to pick up his eighth win of the season.
“Brett had a heck of a game today,” said coach Justesen. “He battled and that’s what we need out of him. There were times where he was struggling, but it didn’t even cross my mind to take him out. We got to win the first one to play the second one, and that led to Brett finishing strong.”
Treve Martin was 2 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs, Troutman had two hits, two runs and two RBIs, and Fields finished 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI.
Jacob Justesen notched a hit and two runs scored, Homer went 1 for 3 with a run and two RBIs, Valdez drove in two runs and Max Martin posted a hit, a walk, was hit by a pitch and drove in a run.
“It was mental,” Fields said. “This game is 90 percent mental. It is about having our heads in the right spot, everyone focused and staying focused for all seven innings. We came out, hit the ball, stuck with the game plan and executed what coach wanted us to do. We are doing well, we want to win and we have our heads in a good place.”
Sherman has one of its toughest games of the season coming up at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Astoria against No. 2 Knappa (17-3).
Knappa is currently riding an 11-game winning streak and have outscored its opponents by a 119-18 margin over that stretch.
The Huskies are unfazed by that tough task.
“It’s baseball, anything can happen,” Winslow said. “Whether you are the No. 1 team or whatever, once that first pitch goes, it all comes down to making plays, hitting the ball, throwing strikes and limiting mistakes. We have been in a lot of tough situations in our careers, so this is nothing new to us. We are not afraid of anybody. We are going to do everything we can to win that game and keep our season going.”